Skip to main content

Full text of "Alexander von Humboldt"

See other formats

WILLIAM TON HTTHBOIDT.                  61
of speculation in German education was felt, but not
acknowledged, and especially natural philosophy was
scurvily treated. The most that was permitted was
the introduction of a few Kantish doctrines. "William
von Humboldt thought that none of the philosophic
systems of that period could claim any consideration.
He thought that young clever men might emulate
with each other as private lecturers, and that the
prize could then be given to the victor. A professor
of philosophy certainly was required, but then Fichta
was there, and Schleierraacher, though a theologian^
was a profound philosopher/^
Berlin has certainly only lately "become the cMef
seat of the new philosophy; it is perhaps also correct
that Humboldt was not sufficiently just towards these
studies; as he considered them in general to be retro-
gressive in their effects.    But it may be questioned
whether Schelling would not have been gladly wel-
comed, if he could have been induced to join the uni-
versity, or if the contrast between him and Fichte
had not been too great.   Humboldt has at least highly
praised Schelling* s merits in improving the philosophic
diction of the Germans, and he probably agreed with
Schelling in many points of his philosophy, although
he would have wished to have had it explained in a
more natural manner, and with more critical ability.
But if Steffens* reproach only means that it was very
wrong not to give him an appointment at the uni-
versity5  it seems as if he w*ere making himself the
judge in his own cause.   The majority of the thinking
heads of Germany will certainly not blame Humboldt
for being somewhat suspicious of the philosophy of a
roan in whom a profound contemplation of ztatBie
was indissolubly allied to a degree of mysticism. highly
dangerous to liberality of thought.   Humboldt always
remained consistent in this aversion, and not only
opposed all Schleiermacher's influence in endeavour-
ing to procure Steffens* appointment, but -frequently
expressed his regret at the intellectual errors of this
otherwise clever thinker.